Encyclopedia Astronautica
Nerva



znerva.jpg
Nerva
Credit: NASA
zphoebus.jpg
NERVA
Phoebus
Credit: NASA
DoE nuclear/lh2 rocket engine. 266 kN. Study 1968. Early version of Nerva engine proposed for use in Saturn and RIFT configurations in 1961. Isp=800s.

Status: Study 1968.
Thrust: 266.00 kN (59,799 lbf).
Specific impulse: 800 s.
Burn time: 1,500 s.

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • Saturn S-N C-3BN American space tug. Study 1961. Upper stage / space tug - Study 1961. Launched by Saturn C-5N-3. Nuclear upper stage considered in lieu of S-IVB in final Saturn C-3B study in November 1961. More...
  • Saturn S-N C-5N American space tug. Study 1961. Upper stage / space tug - Study 1961. Launched by Saturn C-5N-3. Nuclear upper stage considered in lieu of S-IVB in final Saturn C-5 study in November 1961. More...
  • EMPIRE Aeronutronic American manned Mars flyby. Study 1962. Aeronutronic's Mars flyby spacecraft design of 1962 had a total mass of 170 metric tons and would be launched into low earth orbit with a single launch of a Nova booster. More...
  • EMPIRE Lockheed American manned Mars flyby. Study 1962. Lockheed's manned Mars flyby spacecraft design of 1962 had a total mass of 100 metric tons. More...
  • EMPIRE General Dynamics American manned Mars flyby. Study 1962. General Dynamics' manned Mars orbiter spacecraft design of 1962 had a total mass of 900 metric tons and would be launched into low earth orbit with a two launches of a Nova booster or eight launches of a Saturn V. More...
  • Von Braun Mars Expedition - 1969 American manned Mars expedition. Study 1969. Von Braun's final vision for a manned expedition to Mars was a robust plan that eliminated much of the risk of other scenarios. Two ships would fly in convoy from earth orbit to Mars and back. More...
  • IMIS 1968 American manned Mars expedition. Study 1968. In January 1968 Boeing issued a report that was the result of a 14 month study on manned Mars missions. More...
  • PPM American space tug. Study 1968. The Primary Propulsion Module was the definitive 1960's design for a nuclear thermal rocket stage suitable for interplanetary operations. More...
  • Saturn S-N V-25(S)U American space tug. Study 1968. Upper stage / space tug - study 1969. Launched by Saturn V-25(S)U. Version of Nerva studied by Boeing for manned Mars expedition. More...

See also
Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Nova C American nuclear orbital launch vehicle. General Dynamics Nova vehicle using Nova A as first two stages, nuclear spacecraft with jettisonable tanks as upper stage. More...
  • Nova D American nuclear orbital launch vehicle. General Dynamics Nova vehicle using Nova B as first two stages, nuclear spacecraft with jettisonable tanks as upper stage. More...
  • Saturn C-5N American nuclear orbital launch vehicle. Version of Saturn C-5 considered with small nuclear thermal stage in place of S-IVB oxygen/hydrogen stage. More...
  • Saturn C-3BN American nuclear orbital launch vehicle. Version of Saturn C-3 considered with small nuclear thermal stage in place of S-IVB oxygen/hydrogen stage. More...
  • Saturn V-25(S)U American orbital launch vehicle. Boeing study, 1968. 4 156 inch solid propellant boosters; Saturn IC stretched 498 inches with 6.64 million pounds propellant and 5 F-1 engines; S-II standard length with 5 J-2 engines. This vehicle would place Nerva nuclear third stage into low earth orbit, where five such stages would be assembled together with the spacecraft for a manned Mars expedition. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • AEC American agency overseeing development of rocket engines and rockets. Atomic Energy Commission, USA. Responsible for development of nuclear weapons and nuclear power applications. Became part of the newly-created Department of Energy in 1971. More...

Associated Propellants
  • Nuclear/LH2 Nuclear thermal engines use the heat of a nuclear reactor to heat a propellant. Although early Russian designs used ammonia or alcohol as propellant, the ideal working fluid for space applications is the liquid form of the lightest element, hydrogen. Nuclear engines would have twice the performance of conventional chemical rocket engines. Although successfully ground-tested in both Russia and America, they have never been flown due primarily to environmental and safety concerns. Liquid hydrogen was identified by all the leading rocket visionaries as the theoretically ideal rocket fuel. It had big drawbacks, however - it was highly cryogenic, and it had a very low density, making for large tanks. The United States mastered hydrogen technology for the highly classified Lockheed CL-400 Suntan reconnaissance aircraft in the mid-1950's. The technology was transferred to the Centaur rocket stage program, and by the mid-1960's the United States was flying the Centaur and Saturn upper stages using the fuel. It was adopted for the core of the space shuttle, and Centaur stages still fly today. More...

Associated Stages
  • Nova C-3 Nuclear/LH2 propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 61,000/9,000 kg. Thrust 264.00 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 830 seconds. More...
  • Nova D-3 Nuclear/LH2 propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 96,000/12,000 kg. Thrust 264.00 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 830 seconds. More...
  • Saturn S-N C-3BN Nuclear/LH2 propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 32,470/7,708 kg. Thrust 266.80 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 800 seconds. Nuclear upper stage considered in lieu of S-IVB in final Saturn C-3B study in November 1961. More...
  • Saturn S-N C-5N Nuclear/LH2 propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 53,694/10,429 kg. Thrust 266.80 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 800 seconds. Nuclear upper stage considered in lieu of S-IVB in final Saturn C-5 study in November 1961. More...
  • Saturn S-N V-25(S)U Nuclear/LH2 propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 245,760/71,190 kg. Thrust 889.33 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 825 seconds. Version of Nerva studied by Boeing for manned Mars expedition. More...

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